By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Neah Bay's boys and girls basketball teams faced that task and juggled it to differing levels of effectiveness Wednesday night as the Red Devils swept a North Olympic League doubleheader.
The Neah Bay boys topped Crescent 88-17 and the Red Devils girls claimed a 77-32 victory over their Logger counterparts.
In the boys contest, Neah Bay zoomed to a quick 7-0 lead just 40 seconds into the game, thanks to a Ryan Moss 3-pointer and two straight Abraham Venske layups that were forced by ferocious full-court pressure defense.
“I hold the reins back most of the year, but as we get near playoff time I take a little more of them off because I just want to make sure I'm not tampering with their aggression and competitive edge,” Neah Bay coach Gerrad Brooks said of his team.
By the time Crescent was able to break the Red Devils' press and get off a shot on offense, the game was nearly two minutes old and Neah Bay led 11-0.
Things snowballed from there as Moss, Venske and even post player John Reamer stepped behind the 3-point line for scores as the lead ballooned to 28-0 with 1:21 to play.
What to do in a blowout with the playoffs looming?
“We work on our play sets and really making sure we run them right, and then there are certain specifics that I call out, what specific part of the play that I am looking for,” Red Devils coach Gerrard Brooks said.
“I also let them [his players] call it because I want to see what they'll call and how they'll react to it, and I want to see them being players and not just be a robot in running plays.
“I want them to see the plays, see the spacing and take what the defense gives us.
“That's what we work on in games like this and execution is huge.”
A scoreless first quarter for Crescent was averted by a bucket by Martin Waldrip with 1:08 to play in the period.
Crescent's bright spot of the game was delivered by senior Travis Walker.
Walker opened the second quarter by hitting a free throw, then stealing the Red Devils' inbound pass for a layup.
He followed that up on the next possession with another steal, this time at midcourt, and a drive to the hoop for a second straight bucket.
Walker finished with 10 points for Crescent and hit a 3-pointer on his final shot as a Logger in the fourth quarter.
His five second-quarter points, however, were all the scoring Crescent would manage in that frame.
A barrage of buckets by Kenrick Doherty Jr., Josiah Greene, Chris Martinez, Moss and Venske pushed the score to 59-7 at halftime.
“We really work on our rotations and recognizing things we will see coming up because we know teams will try and neutralize our style of play,” Brooks said.
“But as long as we're playing at our pace, we're cool.”
With a 70-7 lead midway through the third period, Brooks sent in his full bench for the remainder of the game.
Venske finished with a game-high 25 points on 11 of 17 shooting from the floor, along with eight rebounds, four steals and four assists.
Moss hit for 17 points, including three 3-point baskets. He also swiped five steals and had three assists.
Kenrick Doherty Jr. came off the bench to score 15 for Neah Bay.
The Red Devils host Clallam Bay tonight and then face a stiffer test in Class 1A Port Townsend at home on Saturday.
Neah Bay 88, Crescent 17
Neah Bay 34 25 13 16— 88
Crescent 2 5 2 8— 17
Neah Bay (88)
Venske 25, Moss 17, K. Doherty Jr. 15, Martinez 8, E. Greene 8, Reamer 5, Porter 5, J. Greene 4, Claplahhoo 1.
Walker 10, Waldrip 4, Dodson 3.
Neah Bay 77, Crescent 32
The girls contest was a little more competitive, Crescent even held an 8-4 advantage with 5:12 left in the first quarter.
But that was before Cierra Moss kicked into high-gear for the Red Devils.
Moss matched her uniform number, scoring 32 points, 16 in each half, as Neah Bay cruised.
Too much of a cruise? Red Devils coach Tony McCaulley seemed to think so.
“We just couldn't get motivated and our younger girls came in and looked better than our older girls,” McCaulley said.
“I wasn't real happy with the performance tonight at all, it was probably the worst game we've played all year.”
Coming on the heels of a 45-point victory, his statement might seem a bit hollow, but it underscores the difficulty Neah Bay has had in securing a competitive schedule to be ready for the postseason.
“We're going to get a big surprise when it comes to districts because there are some good teams that we are going to have to play and we'll be thrown to the wolves a little bit,” McCaulley said.
Neah Bay led 23-8 after the first quarter, and 41-21 at halftime.
The Red Devils dominated in the third quarter, with Moss scoring 10 of the team's 24 points.
The Loggers could muster only a 3-point basket from junior Haley Holgerson.
Holgerson hit five 3-pointers in the game for Crescent, good for 15 points.
Four Neah Bay players scored eight points apiece, Faye Chartraw, Blaire Hill, Holly Greene and Jessica Greene.
Neah Bay hosts Clallam Bay tonight and McCaulley said the plan is to use more of a regular rotation in advance of a Feb. 18 playoff game in Port Angeles against a to-be-determined opponent.
Neah Bay 77, Crescent 32
Neah Bay 23 18 24 12— 77
Crescent 8 13 3 8— 32
Neah Bay (77)
Moss 32, Chartraw 8, Hill 8, Holly Greene 8, J. Greene 8, Aguirre 6, McCaulley 3, Hailey Greene 2, Garcia-Jimmicum 2.
Holgerson 15, Hartley 8, Williams 7, Casad 2.